On Tuesday, Sept. 4th, the strongest typhoon in 25 years swept across the middle of Japan, including the densely populated Kansai area (Osaka, Kobe, Nara, and Kyoto). The IT administrator for CRASH Japan lives in Osaka, and she says:
Normally, typhoons in Osaka are no big deal, but this time was different. The wind was brutal. Everywhere I walk, every block has something damaged – roofs with lost tiles, walls with chunks missing, store awnings lying on the sidewalk, trees in parks uprooted, etc. Perhaps you’ve seen photos of the tanker ship that slammed into a bridge – that bridge is the only access to busy Kansai Airport except for ferries, and it normally handles a huge number of trains and cars, but all the train tracks and half of the car lanes are unusable for an unknown period of time.
Wednesday, the day after the storm, a friend reached out to me for urgent help, as the Sakai Mission House (in southern Osaka) had lost many roof tiles, and she needed ladders, tarps, and volunteers to protect the building from rain. She often volunteers with CRASH or other groups to help with disaster relief, so it was a new experience to be the one in need. Rain was forecast for the next evening (yesterday), so I quickly found a few friends to help, bought what supplies I could find, and we spent yesterday covering the roof. It rained only a few hours after we finished. Carpenters are fully booked – she has been told it might be six months before someone can replace the roof. Other buildings in her neighborhood look even worse – some whole walls were torn down.
The YWAM mission base in northern Osaka suffered twice this summer – it was right at the epicenter of an earthquake in June, and now has additional damage from the typhoon. Hopefully a team can be mobilized to help them, also.
While we were working on the Sakai Mission House, we heard about the earthquake in Hokkaido, and we prayed together for the victims of both disasters.
Yesterday morning at 3:08 a.m., Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido was struck by a magnitude 6.7 earthquake at a shallow depth. Millions of people lost electricity (at first the entire northern Japan power grid was out), and landslides over a wide area have buried many homes and other facilities. 25,000 troops of the Japan Self-Defense Force are being dispatched to help with search and rescue efforts.
A network of churches in Hokkaido will become local organizer for Christian relief efforts, and a CRASH Japan leader is going there by ferry in the next few days to help them with preparations and assess how CRASH can help most effectively.
News is still unfolding, and the full extent of victims and damage won’t be known for some time, but here are a few early news articles in English: